Tag Archives: celebrities

Flight attendants: The good, the bad, and the not so ugly world of flying

232323232fp73452>nu=3277>273>5;5>WSNRCG=377646<89732-nu0mrjThe Azumano Travel Show, a weekend travel radio show on KPAM out of Portland, Oregon, had me on the air last week to discuss my book,  Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 feet - and what’s it’s like, really like to be a flight attendant.  You can listen by clicking the links below.

Azumano Travel Show: Heather Poole (Part One): Celebrities, traveling with kids, the mile high club, naked passengers

Azumano Travel Show: Heather Poole (Part two): What kind of person makes a good flight attendant, how flying has changed over the years

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You know you’re working to Vegas when…

View from the layover hotel

You know you’re working a Vegas flight when passengers walk on board and ask if you’re serving alcohol – at 7AM (Yes, sir, we will be serving alcohol for breakfast), you’re apologizing for running out of limes before takeoff (not over the PA, even though you’d like to),  people keep trying to pay for things (you’re not selling) with a fat ball-o sweaty cash, and no one notices they’re sitting between a stripper and two…well, I probably shouldn’t go there, but I will say their paperwork is hidden in a cubby and I’ll be passing it off to someone meeting the flight.  Which reminds me of the announcement Flavor Flavvvv made on a recent flight, “Good luck in the land of lost wages…I mean, Las Vegas.”  This after plugging his fried chicken and waffles restaurant in Vegas— ‘Flavor Flav House of Flavors.’  I’ll have to check it out next time I’m in town.  So…who’s coming with me?

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Do flight attendants REALLY hate serving Diet Coke? (How the misconception began)

Is that my book drinking a Jack & Diet Coke in first class? Perhaps.

Flight attendants don’t hate serving Diet Coke.  Let me repeat, we do NOT hate serving Diet Coke.  Nor do we hate serving passengers.  Or even passengers in general.  For the record, I drink Diet Coke both as a flight attendant and as a passenger.  Hard to believe, I know, given all the recent articles and news reports circulating around about shocking flight attendant secrets.  The so-called secrets (AKA interesting facts) actually came from the article I wrote for Mental Floss last month.   The article I wrote was not about what flight attendants hate, and yet all I keep getting are interview requests to discuss just that.   The funny thing is there are so many more interesting things to discuss in the article, like why short people can’t become flight attendants and what we do with dead passengers when there isn’t a corpse cupboard on board, but  all anyone wants to talk about is Diet Coke.

“Of all the drinks we serve, Diet Coke takes the most time to pour—the fizz takes forever to settle at 35,000 feet. In the time it takes me to pour a single cup of Diet Coke, I can serve three passengers a different beverage. So even though giving cans to first-class passengers is a big no-no, you’ll occasionally spy 12 ounces of silver trimmed in red sitting up there.” That’s 1 of the “10 shocking secrets” I wrote for Mental Floss.

An excerpt from my book, Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 feet

“Robert Redford and Mark Cuban have a few things in common.  Besides being extremely nice and maybe even a little shy, they both made me nervous because they were way too easy to please.  I’m not used to that.  Mark, like Robert, only wanted a Diet Coke.  That’s it.  Keep in mind that I have a lot of experience serving Diet Coke. You might find it interesting to learn that it’s the most annoying beverage a flight attendant can pour for a passenger in flight, because in the time it takes us to fill one cup, we could have served an entire row of passengers.  For some reason the fizz at 35,000 feet doesn’t go down as quickly as it does for other sodas, so flight attendants end up standing in the aisle just waiting to pour a little more…and a little more…and a little more…until passengers sitting nearby become impatient and begin shouting out drink orders I can never remember.  

“Just one second,” I’ll say, still pouring a little more…and a little more until finally I just hand them the can.  I’ve actually had nightmares about frantically trying to finish a never ending Diet Coke beverage service before landing.  Who would have guessed that working on a private jet and serving a single Diet Coke to one passenger would turn out to be even more difficult?  

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Interview with Nomadic Matt on what it’s like to be a flight attendant today

Heather Poole

This post originally appeared on NomadicMatt.com

I first met Heather Poole at the first travel blog conference. We got along very well and I had been reading her blog for awhile. She writes about life as a flight attendant. Recently, she published a book,Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet, about life as a flight attendant. I, ironically, picked it up at an airport and read it on a plane. She found time her time at 35,000 feet to talk about her job and book.

Nomadic Matt: You’re a flight attendant. What’s that like? 
Heather Poole: Even though the job has changed a lot over the years, it can still be a lot of fun. But patience is a must, more so than ever before. Flight attendants are the face of the airline and passengers have a tendency to take things out on us, even if what happened is not our fault. Besides being friendly and outgoing, we also have to be able to adapt to change easily. This is why we always have back up plans A, B and C, because there’s always something bound to go wrong in the airline industry. Mechanicals. Delays. Cancellations. They happen. Even on Christmas Eve. If there are kids at home this can be one of the most difficult aspects of the job. Flight attendants also are very independent. It’s not uncommon to meet a coworker for the first on a trip and then not see them again for a few months, maybe even years. The best part about the job is when we step off the airplane, we always leave the stress of the flight behind. Every flight is a new flight, which means every day is a new adventure.

How often do flight attendants work? Do they fly a lot of the same routes over and over again? 
Our schedules average around 85 hours a month. But don’t let the number fool you. That’s flying time only. Most flight attendants work way more than that.  Time on the ground doesn’t count towards our pay and therefore isn’t included in our monthly schedules This is why we want to spend as much time as possible in the air, not hopping from city to city with lots of time between flights on the ground. Airline seniority determines the kind of trip a flight attendant can hold. This explains why most international long haul flights are staffed with senior crews. Once we have enough seniority to hold a good trip, it’s the only trip we’re going to work until we’re senior enough to hold an even better one. Schedules are set up with a day or two off between each trip, but many of us will “trip trade” with other flight attendants to work a few trips in a row in order to maximize our time off on the ground.

Any hint on the airline you work for? 
One of the big ones.

What did your co-workers think of you writing this book? 
I don’t know that most of them even know I’ve written a book. And if they do know, they probably just assume I’m still writing it. I’ve been talking about writing this book for years.

Did your airline know and were there any restrictions placed on you?
I didn’t ask for their permission to write the book, and I certainly didn’t call anyone up at headquarters to make an announcement about it either. Flight attendants learn to lay low very early on in their careers. But I’ve been blogging about flying for a long time. I’m fairly certain they know who I am. Just keep in mind my book is not an airline expose. It’s about what it’s like to be a flight attendant. It doesn’t really matter who we work for, the job is pretty much the same wherever you go. Plus half of the book takes place on the ground because it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. That’s what I set out to write about. Plus, there are so many misconceptions about flight attendants I decided to set the record straight.

What is one really juicy story you left out? 
One story that got deleted was about a celebrity who claimed to have magical powers after a passenger fell unconscious. To this day, we still don’t know if it was his magical powers or the husband who kept nudging his wife in the arm in an effort to make her come to and see the celebrity he was excitedly talking about that made her gain consciousness again.

With so many changes to the airline industry over the years, would you recommend someone become a flight attendant?…

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CRUISING ATTITUDE: Chapter 2 – I never wanted to be a flight attendant (an excerpt)

In order to be a flight attendant in the 1950s, women were required to be attractive—“just below Hollywood standards.” No wonder many a hopeful starlet became a flight attendant part of a backup plan.  Rumor has it Tom Berenger and Richard Gere once worked as flight attendants. I don’t believe it, either, but I have dreamt about it. Several times. Richard looked amazing wearing nothing but a navy blue pinstriped apron serving me chocolate chip cookies in bed. Dennis Miller, on the other hand, really did work as a flight attendant for Continental, or so I’ve been told. Still trying to figure out how true that is. But what a snarky flight attendant he must have been!

Actress Kate Linder, who has been on The Young and the Restless for more than twenty years, is still a flight attendant for United Airlines. You’ll only find her behind a cart on the weekends. Kim Kardashian’s mother, Kris, was a flight attendant for American Airlines when she met Robert Kardashian, O. J. Simpson’s attorney. What’s funny about that is Kris’s second husband, Bruce Jenner, an Olympic gold medalist, was married first to aflight attendant who supported him while he trained for the de- cathlon. Bruce later went on to purchase a private plane, which he learned to pilot in order to make it on time to public appearances.

But flying is not for everyone. Ant, the comedian, was a flight attendant for American Airlines before he became a TV personality. Evangeline Lilly, who starred as a plane crash survivor on the television show Lost, hated her brief stint as a flight attendant, calling it the “worst job ever” thanks to short layovers and swollen feet.

Men who don’t have a problem with swollen flight attendant feet include Robert De Niro, George Best, David Caruso, Wayne Newton, Lou Rawls, Montel Williams, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Greece Prime Minister George Papandreou, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and American Idol winner Ruben Studdard. They all married flight attendants. And let’s not forget the most recent person to join the flight attendant wife club, Kelsey Grammer, who ditched his wife Camille, from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, to wed Kayte Walsh, a Virgin Airlines air hostess. Bill Maher, a self-proclaimed bachelor, dated fly girl Coco Johnsen for a couple of years until they wound up in court. And there are all the famous affairs . . . but I probably shouldn’t go there.

The prime minister of Iceland and the world’s first openly gay female leader, Johanna Sigurdardottir, once worked as a flight attendant for Loftleidir, a predecessor of Icelandair. Wife of rogue trader Nick Leeson (Barings Bank), Lisa Leeson, became a flight attendant for Virgin. Virgin’s very own Richard Branson was actually born to a flight attendant. Prince William’s wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton to parents who both worked as airline crew before going into the party supply business.

While times (and requirements) have changed, the job is still a desirable one. Thousands of people apply each year. At my airline, the average age of a flight attendant is now forty years old. For the first time in history, being a flight attendant is considered a profession, not just a job. Fewer are quitting, turnover is not as high as it once was, and competition has gotten fierce. Ninety-six percent of people who apply to become flight attendants do not get a call back. In December 2010, Delta Airlines received more than one hundred thousand applications after announcing they had openings for one thousand flight attendants. Only the most qualified applicants are hired. Even though a college degree is not a requirement, there are very few flight attendants who do not possess one. Lawyers and doctors have been known to apply. This should tell you a lot about me, and anyone else you encounter in navy polyester. Think about that the next time you’re on a plane.

Of course, the first time I tried to become a flight attendant I wasn’t part of the lucky 4 percent.

In college, I went to my first airline interview in order to get away from a roommate who had more than her fair share of issues. She’d bring guys back to our dorm room and leave them behind. Try studying Japanese culture when your roomie is throwing up all over your clothes, the ones you’d specifically and repeat- edly forbidden her to wear! So when my mother, a woman who had always dreamed of becoming a flight attendant, mailed me a newspaper clipping with an ad circled four times in red for an open house with a major U.S. carrier, I decided to apply. Not so much because I wanted to become a flight attendant, but because the airline provided a free ticket to a city out of state where the interviews were being conducted. Broke and tired, with a laundry hamper full of vomit and a disheveled man locked in the bathroom using my Q-tips, I just wanted to get away. I also wanted to fly on an airplane, something I’d only done three times before in my life.

Two weeks after I received a letter from the airline telling me where to go and what to say to the ticket agent to get a seat on the flight (not all airlines cover the travel expense), I stepped off the aircraft, sashayed down the jet bridge in four-inch beige pumps, a little black bag rolling behind, and made my way to a non- descript door clear on the other side of the busy airport terminal. There I found a giant room filled with hundreds of happy, smiling women. I stopped in my tracks. The banquet room was lined with neat little rows of applicants, knees held tightly together, ankles crossed delicately off to the side, dressed head to toe in blue and black. My brand-new canary yellow suit and suntan hose screamed LOOK AT ME! And not in a good way. Right then and there I wanted to die.

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BREAKING NEWS: Anna Nicole Smith is alive and well and working as a flight attendant!

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Celebrity passenger claimed to have “special powers”

Tom Cruise.

It’s not often I get to start a Galley Gossip post with that name! But that’s the name several readers mentioned after I asked if they could guess which celebrity passenger offered to assist an unconscious woman with his “special powers” on the airplane. Honest to God, I wouldn’t joke about something as serious as this!

It’s interesting to note that Gary Busey, Depak Chopra, Uri Geller, and the Director General of the FBI were also mentioned as celebrities possibly possessing a very unique power. Tom Cruise, however, won the poll by a landslide with twenty-three votes. I wonder if Mr. Cruise is even aware that so many people believe him to be to powerful?!

“Tom Cruise has one power, jumping on Oprah’s couch!” said a reader named Jeff after I posed the question.

Another reader named Neil said, “It’s true. Tom Cruise had special powers over my wife at one time. She’s outgrown him though.”

Now that I’m thinking about it perhaps Tom Cruise does have – or had – special powers! Then again maybe I just have a lot in common with Neil’s wife! Whatever the case, I do know that the celebrity passenger in question was not Tom Cruise, or any one of the other people mentioned above. Unfortunately I am unable to name the passenger (I’d like to keep my job), but I will tell you exactly what happened. Just remember this is Galley Gossip, first class 767 galley gossip to be precise. That said I’m fairly certain the source is a reliable one.

THE STORY

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(Photo courtesy of Cristilive)

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